Formal verification

I love it when people think they’re entitled to an opinion about straight facts. They think that everything can be reverse engineered into oblivion and attacked by their own perspectives whenever they please. News flash fuckheads: you can’t.

Take geometry as an example. The fact that the sum of a triangle’s internal angles is 180º, like any other demonstrable geometric feature, is not an empirical achievement, the result of testing every possible event, or the drawing of a statistical conclusion. It’s a formally verifiable fact, meaning that you apply logic to acquire absolute certainty of a fact from the top down, not the other way around. You can have no idea of what a triangle’s proprieties are, or how it behaves when transformed, or anything else, and still know that a certain fact is true because you have followed a chain of logic that is true in its very nature, and cannot be broken by external factors.

This is how I can prove to anyone that bitcoin has value. It doesn’t simply “work”, the very concept of its existence’s value is a formally verifiable reality, and this is why.

Things have value to individuals. We trade them to obtain other things that have value to us. To make things easier, we find a medium that is always valuable to anyone, so that one side of any trade we like is such medium: this is money. Money only has value because other people will accept it in return for another trade the next time you want to perform one. That’s it. Others will accept it because it cannot be forged [at least in heavily significant amounts], as a unit of money’s value must not be washed out to oblivion, because it is secure, as transaction must be provable, and because it is universal, as they must be able to trade it further on. Bitcoin is generated out of nowhere, exactly like traditional money, and it acquires value in the very fact that individuals like to use it as an exchange medium and make it circulate. It is a deflationary currency, as there’s a fix limit on the number of units that will ever exist, and some will actually get lost along the way. Transactions are mathematically secure, and unless someone finds a flaw in the code [aka the implementation of the math, not the math itself], it will never be vulnerable to error.

I don’t give a fuck about what you, your grandfather, your economics professor, climate change deniers, and pundits think about it. This logic is formally verified start to end, it’s completely above anything you studied in university, algorithms, governments, and interventions. It’s a system that is a non-system by its very nature. It’s a pure idea that is translated into code and can be verified by anyone, without trusting anyone else, in the language of the universe: math.

The fact that bitcoin fits perfectly inside my idea of things is a completely separate aspect, the fact that I like it has absolutely nothing to do with this logic. That’s the beauty of science. And this applies to anything and everything you can think of. Start thinking about things from scratch, from nothing to its current and future forms, from zero to infinity, and you can analyze everything in a formally verified fashion. Ideas you have will always make it hard to get a fully pristine picture of things, but they’ll never make it impossible. Light has nothing to fear from darkness, as darkness is only the absence of light itself.

Enlightened Anarchy

Life is an adventure of exploration and discovery. Every living thing is bourn into an unknown world, and immediately starts learning about its surroundings. First it is alone, then it finds those close to him in the nearby environment, and so on, always inducing about their nature, and wondering whether it can trust them or not. This is the start of what evolves into every form of friendship, rivalry, alliance, and distrust. Networks grow larger and ever more complex, but the being always faces all these challenges from its own individual perspective. As the outside is cast with the light of knowledge, the fear of darkness fades, and vaster and more distinct lands are uncovered day after day, its new understanding of the universe leads it to form society where before there was an enemy, peace where there was war. It takes time, and the darkest events occur before light finally seeps in on every side. As always, knowledge in its purest and most transparent form defines its approach towards reality. Take humans as an example. They have slowly tied all lose ends together, and have finally networked their entire population on their planet, or at least a very large ratio of it. Access to instant information about every land makes them relatively aware of their fellow travellers, past and present, distant and near. For this reason they have expanded their networks into very large districts called nations, accepting their differences and looking forward to living together happily ever after. This, for the time being, is obviously a lie, to others and themselves, as they have not yet confronted the challenge of forming ideas on their own, but accept social pressure into some carefully crafted view of progress and so called civilization. This, however, is to be expected from beings that are exposed every day to a large set of data, that has to be elaborated and pieced together by every one of them on their own. The process of acquiring a global sense of existence takes time, and never ends. It is natural, and inevitable, like drops of ink that fall into a glass of water: every being will face one another, first the familiar, similar, near, and like-minded, then the strangers, the different, the distant, and their new ideas. They will slowly become smart, independent, strong, and complete. They will build their own future, and form their own ideas. They will finally be truly alive, once they stare into the face of the universe, see the true nature of things, and know who they really are. Living together with all the creatures of the universe will be a long sought-after achievement. Anarchy is not a fight, it is the natural progression of things. It is not to be afraid of, it is to be found out there on your own, and eventually all together. It is not an organizational structure, it is the absence of one, and of the very idea of one, just like centrifugal force is really just the absence of an action, an intervention, an intrusion, like centripetal force. Light is not to be shined upon those that live in the dark; they are to be led to it and see it on their own, if anything. In the end, as always, Lucretius’s idea is always right:

“Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis,
e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem;
non quia vexari quemquamst jucunda voluptas,
sed quibus ipse malis careas quia cernere suavest.”

This fantastic post entitled “Why Bitcoin is a Ponzi Scheme” is one of the best living examples of what I refer to when I write about people trying to wrap their mind around a new concept starting from their existing dataset of ideas and logical pathways between them, using the ancient-greek-philosopher approach of starting off with a pre-composed idea, and rewriting the world around it to make it fit to that initial, static, immutable idea,  rather than inducing about the world as they discover new things in life, and adapt their logical construct according to the changing of events and of their own knowledge about them.

Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate the “wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee” warning he’s trying to issue to people, identifying patterns of the bitcoin economy to those of traditional economy scams that have happened in history. The fundamental flaw in his thinking is exactly this though: he’s using traditional economics models to analyse something completely new and different, a true non-economy, that redefines everything we had taken for granted until today about money itself, with the supposition that big-name historical economics professors’ opinions are worth anything more than zero in these new and yet-unexplored horizons.

The fact that you’ve never seen a green cat doesn’t exclude its existence from the realm of possibility, as they say, so scoffing off sights of such animals as fake once documented evidence had been provided would be just as idiotic. If he just had taken the time to figure out that all of the “warning signs” about bitcoin he’s spotting here are exactly what we needed to fix in a traditional currency [or consequences thereof], he maybe would have noticed that it’s the nature of the latter that is distorted and dystopic, not the other way around.

I hope you take the time to read through this brilliant showcase of limited-mindedness and self-ridiculing ignorance and arrogance: it’ll make your day just that much brighter. If you want my take on this topic by the way, here it is.

Probability

Ok so we’ve studied probability at school, and I have my own take about it. This might have been though about elsewhere, I don’t know, I don’t care, I’m interested in the science. The starting point is the definition of probability as the number of times a certain event occurs after a set number of repeated attempts, in an environment where all of the known features are set and unchanged during the course of the experiment.

Now the part where I disagree is that this approach only has value for systems that can be physically analyzed repeatedly. For instance, this definition is “not applicable” – in the current general mindset – to determine the probability of aliens living on a distant planet. That’s because – they say – we only have one universe to science out on and discover, and we’ll only be able to take one measurement of the existence of aliens on such planet.

That’s true, but let’s not forget that probability is the analysis of the unknown, and only has meaning and value until we know the properties we’re trying to establish. Therefore, I think, the question should be:

If I take a thousand universes, each with the exact same known properties of the one we know, and with exactly the same unknowns, how many times will such planet turn out to have aliens living on it?

That’s because repetition can happen in a conceptual state, even if we cannot perform it directly, and features of the universe are determined by factors outside of our control. Assuming there is a “single universe”, a “single dimension”, and a “single branch of space-time” [non-physicist talk here, sorry, no idea what i’m actually saying] in a way that there’s only “one truth” out there about these aliens on this planet, we can still apply this definition of repetition to establish the odds of them actually being there.

Therefore this is the definition of probability that I stand by, and I really think this can apply to every possible instance. It just makes sense to me, and I hope it makes sense to you after having read this. If not, it’ll just be something stuck inside my reality.

Arte moderna

A mio parere il dibattito sull’arte moderna non ha ancora, come quasi qualsiasi altro dibattito, raggiunto e nemmeno individuato il punto focale della discussione. Si è soltanto tentato invano di stabilire dei limiti arbitrari per cercare di giustificare l’assegnazione di caratteristiche “artistiche” ad alcune opere ed ad altre no secondo fragili ed estremamente limitati criteri personali. Ma chi siamo noi per giudicare se il lavoro espressivo di un altra persona è o non è arte? Come pretendiamo di avere i mezzi per non solo comprendere e interpretare il risultato ma addirittura di risalire al motivo originario che ha spinto l’artista a realizzarla? Ovviamente l’interesse che un’opera suscita in noi varia moltissimo da fruitore a fruitore: alcune di esse, infatti, vertono su uno splendore immediato che coinvolge dal primo momento i nostri sensi, mentre altre, invece, acquistano valore solo nel momento in cui siamo in grado di comprendere il messaggio che sta cercando di comunicarci l’autore; alcune sono realizzate con meticolosa attenzione e grande dispendio di tempo, mentre altre sono compiute di getto e senza indugio; alcune sono di complicatissima esecuzione mentre altre sono invece quasi provocatoriamente semplici. Nessuna di queste o altre combinazioni di caratteristiche rendono un opera più “artistica” di un’altra, e questo non può essere valutato da nessuno. Se lo riterremo necessario potremo indagare a fondo su un’opera ed interpretarla a modo nostro, e alcune volte saremo in grado di cogliere più aspetti specifici di essa se dotati di esperienza e cultura alle nostre spalle, ma attenzione: nessuno sarà migliore di chiunque altro nell’apprezzarla e a formare proprie opinioni su di essa, non importa con quanta esperienza o notorietà. Il famoso esempio di Dalì che, nell’analizzare un’opera mise in risalto “l’innegabile significato erotico della vanga conficcata nel terreno e della carriola”, oggetti invece con tutta probabilità innocui, non è meno rilevante di un commento di qualsiasi altro critico e non dovrebbe essere di meno valore nello sfatare il giudizio di qualunque altro di questi ultimi. Essi – o meglio, il fatto che la gente segua le loro opinioni più delle loro stesse o di quelle di chiunque altro e anzi si faccia guidare da esse – sono, infatti, l’unico vero “problema” dell’arte: i critici infatti guidano a loro piacimento le mode e decidono sul destino degli artisti favorendo o meno le loro opere e facendo sì che che una parte del loro pubblico – quella considerata meno “colta” e meno dotata di “strumenti accademici di giudizio” si senta presa in giro quando viene presentata con opere che vengono giudicate dallo speculatore di turno come degne di essere considerate arte oppure no, mentre il singolo forse attribuirebbe ad esse, se dovesse scegliere, tutt’altro significato e, volendo, rilevanza artistica – cosa che comunque ritengo assurda. E tutto ciò perché la gente preferisce seguire in modo alquanto passivo ed acritico quello che viene da loro detto senza perlomeno mettere in discussione i loro giudizi e senza andare oltre e cercare, ad esempio, gli artisti meno noti – spesso perché bocciati dalla critica – per scoprire davvero il mondo dell’arte nella sua incontaminata completezza. Se a questo aggiungiamo una dilagante chiusura di orizzonti, che non permette al vasto pubblico – spesso anche a quello più aperto e curioso, a causa del filtro della critica – di apprezzare opere nuove ed originali (si pensi agli esordi di Manet o di mille altri) ci avviciniamo alla comprensione di questa realtà dove la fruizione dell’arte è spesso difficile o perlomeno resa complessa da fattori ad essa estranei e che ne impediscono la trasmissione originariamente voluta dall’artista. È questo quindi, a mio parere, il nodo centrale della discussione, che regola tutta una serie di questioni che altrimenti sembrerebbero assolutamente irrisolte.